The One Thing I Kind of Dislike Intensely

June 5th, 2012

Some aspects of field life are endearing and awesome.  Baby chimps swinging in a tree.  Little Shamila who waves hello at me and yells, “Ahn-DRAY-uh!”  A calm lake and a cool swim after a long day.  French fry night.  But other aspects are not so endearing, not so awesome.  Sticks in my eyes.  Ants.  Four-hour death hikes up and around and through valleys and mountains and rivers with no baboon in sight.  Ankle sores from scratching bug bites open in the middle of the night.  Ants.  Endless data entry.  Plowing through vines and thorns in an effort to stay with a baboon.  Oh, and did I mention ants?


I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about ants in entries past.  There are all kinds here and each variety has its own name.  The siafu and sungusungu suck.  Absolutely.  But the sisimizi are starting to take their place in the sun.  Unlike siafu and sungusungu sisimizi do not bite.  No, their powers are much more insidious.  Siafu build tunnels with their bodies and parade full force across the forest floor, devouring all meat (be it insect or human) in their path.  They are militant and they are formidable, but they always move on.  Sungusungu are huge and have nests and when you see a mass of them you can hear the skitter of their bodies and mouths and they chatter (quite creepily) to one another.  But they also live elsewhere and can be avoided.  Sisimizi, on the other hand, are tiny and numerous and EVERYWHERE.  There are sisimizi on my towel and bathing suit as they hang to dry.  There are sisimizi nestled in a swarm under a book on my bookcase.  There are sisimizi on the plates after dinner, in the water pitcher, tunneling through the breakfast banana bread, (walking across the screen of my computer as I type this), sisimizi stuck in the peanut butter, swimming (and drowning) in my contact case, sitting on my toothbrush.  There are sisimizi snuffling through my dirty underwear, sisimizi parading across the floor with bits of rice and sugar, sisimizi engulfing my medical supplies.  There are sisimizi walking single file to and from every crack in our house, steady little lines, with no hope of an impending departure.  I hate sisimizi.  Every night we try to outwit them by putting the banana bread tupperware (clearly faulty) in a different location so we don’t wake up to a protein-infused breakfast the next day.  We are only occasionally successful.  We also hide other leftovers, putting them on table islands in the middle of the room, perching them on the solar panel output box, encasing them in plastic bags.  Again, success is marginal.  I am sure there is some grand lesson in forebearance and patience that we should be garnering from these little homewreckers, some grand humility before God, a willingness to throw up our hands and admit powerlessness, thereby learning some soul-enriching lesson.  And some days I feel I’m getting there.  But mostly I fantasize about smashing every last one of them.

Ants, taking over my dinner plate shortly after I've finished. This is actually a rather small showing.